Mekunu to make landfall on Salalah tomorrow

MUSCAT: Multi-level rescue and disaster- mitigation measures added with all-around rehabilitation programmes are in place as the Royal Oman Police (ROP), Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulances (PACDA) and Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) have taken stock of the current situation in the southern tip of Dhofar as the cyclone Mekunu is about to make landfall tomorrow.

The PACA has announced that the major international gateway, Salalah International Airport has been closed due to tropical cyclone Mekunu from  20.00 hours Thursday to 20.00 hours on Friday unless there is a new NOTAM circular.

Residents in the region, Salalah in particular, are geared up to face one of the worst hurricanes of several decades as the PACA has issued a statement (Warning 2) on the movement of Mekunu, situated at latitude 14.2 degrees North and longitudes, 55.4 degrees east, 330km from the city of Salalah. The system is expected to increase in intensity raising cyclonic status to Category 2 in the next 12 hours, while convective clouds lead to isolated rains.

“The present situation is under control and we have taken stock of the elaborate preparedness of the preventive, rescue and rehabilitation measures prevailing at the moment in Dhofar”, a senior PACDA official has said.

“Several platoons of Civil Defence, rescue personnel are currently deployed and several more platoons ready to be called in for assistance”, he added.

Satellite images and bulletins released by the National Centre for Multi-Hazard Early Warning summarises the tropical cyclone Mekunu to trigger heavy thundershowers, rainfall in the range of 200 and 300 mm, accompanied by strong winds, which will lead to flash floods on the Dhofar coasts. Additionally, the wind speed around the centre is estimated at 70 to 80 knots (126- 144 km/hour). Rough seas have been predicted along the coasts of Dhofar and Al Wusta with wave heights ranging from 8 to 12 metres.

“Do not venture out to the sea nor should one go near the coastal areas as the sea is rough along the Sharqiyah coast with a wave height of 3 to 4 meters.”

The Royal Oman Police (ROP) and National Committee for Civil Defence (NCCD) have, meanwhile, managed to evacuate people from low-lying areas and coastal areas including the Darziz area and other places prone to floods. Citizens and residents living in these areas joined hands with the authorities in managing the evacuation smoothly and creating awareness on the situation. The NCCD has urged not to risk their lives by going to dangerous areas. Schools and houses located at high-level areas have been identified as rehabilitation points while good Samaritans have come forward offering their houses and properties for rehabilitation.

“In addition, it is recommended to evacuate coastline residents and to find specific safe and secure locations as the weather condition emerges seriously, and avoid crossing wadis and water-clogs these days”, the ROP alert said.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has collated the emergency numbers for medical services in case of an emergency and it has been made available to all the residents on social media. Sultan Qaboos Hospital Hotline is 23211151 while that of the DG of Health Services is 23136223.

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